The Brunate onion is a typical product from the Como area. It is a globe shaped bulb that is slightly squashed in the centre, it has a white colour and an intense and fragrant perfume. It is a medium to small size: the bulbs have a diameter between 65 to 75 millimetres, the small onions, or little bulbs which are used for pickling, have a diameter of around 20 to 25 millimetres. The onions are sown in the first days of March and have a two year vegetation cycle: in the first year the plant forms the roots, leaves and bulb (the small onions which are used for pickling): in the second year, they form the real onion which is to be consumed, with seeds and flowers. The bulbs are picked by hand around halfway through July and left to dry on the ground for a few days before being put out on the market and/or consumed.
The cultivation and sale of onions in the Brunate area are activities that trace back to the end of the 16th century in several historic texts. It is written in these reports that the inhabitants of the city were called “scigulatt”, or sellers of onions, which confirms how much this agricultural product was important to the local economy.
The Brunate onion is known in gastronomy, even outside of Lombardy, for its intense but delicate flavour. Other characteristics are its crunchiness. It is a typical food for the cold seasons, and it is used to accompany other dishes such as pork. The main recipe it is used for is onion soup, “la supa de scigulìtt” in the local dialect, but the potato pie and the luganega sausage with onions are not to be forgotten. Another typical recipe was the “Fitascetta”, a rustic doughnut of bread, topped with sugar dusted onions.
The production of this onion is done mainly by families in a limited quantity, there are opportunities for more widespread sales thanks to the involvement of small family farms. In 2015 the association of the Brunate onion was born, with the objective to valorise and defend this local product which has always characterised the local rural economy of the Brunate territory. In 2016 the Brunate onion became a Traditional Farmed food Product (PAT) of the Lombardy region.
The research activities necessary for the reporting of this product in the Ark of Taste online catalogue were financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the General Directorate of the Tertiary Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility – notice n° 1/2018 “Slow Food in action: communities protagonists of change”, pursuant to Article 72 of the Tertiary Sector Code, referred to in Legislative Decree No. 117/2017.